Passover is a Spring time holiday falling anywhere from March to April depending on where it is located on the Jewish (lunar based) Calendar. Passover falls on the fifteenth of the month of Nisan ( not to be confused with the Nissan car). This year Passover falls on March 30th and will end on April 6th. The first two Seders are March 30th and March 31st.
The story of Passover is a very interesting one and explains why Jewish people are not able to eat what they normally eat the rest of the year. The dietary restrictions have been compared to when people give up something for Lent, but this is not the case the restrictions are a bit on the severe side and it is not like giving up one thing, it is giving up many things for the holiday. Some of the restrictions include not eating any leavened bread, corn products ( including corn syrup which is in many products), beans, noodles, and many other food items that make the list a rather exhausting one.
The story of Passover is told in the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus. The story explains how the Jewish people were held captive in Egypt as slaves. They were working hard and not really sure how they ended up becoming slaves but they knew they needed to get out of Egypt. The slaves had prayed to God to provide them with their freedom. Their prayers were answered with ten plagues upon the Egyptians. The last plague was a killing of the oldest child, the Jewish people were aware of this and put blood on their front door so the plague would pass over their home ( partially why the holiday is called Passover). Moses was chosen to lead the people out of Egypt through the parting of the Red Sea. The Jewish people had left so fast they did not have time to wait for their bread to rise hence why bread is not to be eaten but matzoh ( a flat bread ) was allowed as it was bread that did not rise. ( I tried to remember the story as best as what I remember being told so if I left out some details I apologize).
The second night is the Counting of the Omer, which counts to the next Jewish Holiday of Shavout ( a harvest holiday). When the Omer is counted people cannot get married or get their hair cut. These are restrictions that are put on until the next holiday. After the Omer is done people can get married and get their hair cut. The Omer is about fifty days.
When people prepare for Passover they have to clean up their house. One has to store all food that is considered not Kosher for Passover ( chametz) away. The house has to be vacuumed to get rid of crumbs from that food. Backpacks, cars, and other places where food might be stored have to be cleaned out so there is no temptation to eat chametz.
Passover is an important holiday to me. Passover means appreciating the freedom that I have as I am not a slave to anyone. Passover also means being able to understand the struggles that the Jewish people have been through in the past and sometimes even in the present. The food restrictions provide a good sense of what it would be like to live in harder times. Some of the food is even symbolic of the struggles ( matzoh and horseradish symbolic of the bitter times, just to name a few). One has the opportunity to understand their heritage from this holiday and learn from the past mistakes. I hope that the Jewish readers of this article will have a Good Passover and readers of other faiths will have a better understanding of Passover.